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  The NIST Manufacturing Extension Program for Kentucky

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Fail Fast, Fail Early

Hindsight is funny; it’s easy to look back and question some of the boneheaded decision making you have done through the years. I believe most would agree, “If you knew then what you know now” things would be different. Heck, I believe everyone grew up stating that phrase over and over … or maybe it was just me making lots of bad decisions! The more appropriate question, “why did you not see the potential ramifications until later, and why did you allow the bad decisions to compound”? The answer is a lack of systematic knowledge collection, essentially data.  

“Failure Graphic

It’s easy to state that a lack of data caused a bad decision. The fact is, if that data was available to you, it would have been evaluated, digested, and quite possibly (hopefully!) decision changing. If it was not, that simply means you were not “boneheaded” but simply “hardheaded”. Most would state it was not a lack of knowledge and data but more of a lack of being able to read the future. Think about it, how would you know your best client was getting ready to drop you, a flu epidemic was to hit your shop floor, raw materials were going to double in costs, your best manager was leaving you, etc.? The fact is, we make decisions based upon the data we have at the time. The problem is, we do not put enough effort into collecting pertinent, usable data that will ease decision making.

“Bill” is a client of AKA’s in central KY. He has been in business for over 32 years and has about 45 employees. Like many of you, he needs another 6-10 employees but cannot find them. Well that is not exactly true, he has had 12 come and go in the past 2 weeks alone. He has a good “core” that he depends on and essentially a “revolving door” for the rest. When we discussed his team’s recent “less than ideal outcomes”, he had the same answer I hear at almost every place I interact with. “No time, short staffed, fighting fires … yada-yada-yada“, and the one statement I absolutely love (sarcasm inserted), “you win some, you lose some”.  You see, “Bill” has been working with me to become more proactive, energetic and essentially an evangelist that truly believes you learn by your mistakes. This thought process is what I call, “Fail Fast, Fail Early”. The issue is not that his team was failing, the issue was they were taking too long to figure out that they were failing, expending resources that “Bill” did not have. We went through some additional training to allow the team to better understand how to identify, decipher and quickly problem solve - but really make quick agile decisions.

Fail Fast, Fail Early is bringing data to decision making. It’s breaking big angry and scary obstacles into bite sized “speed bumps” that are more manageable. It’s identifying what I call “Valves” that can either help or hurt your progress. Ultimately, it’s about quickly and efficiently streamlining decision making, sticking to a timeline, making people accountable and most importantly, minimizing or reducing ramifications for bad decisions.

You see, if you are afraid to fail, you will never grow to your full potential. Failing is a part of life. What matters most is not the act of failing, but the lessons learned along the way. My job with “Bill” is to mentor him to enable him to allow his team to grow while minimizing any damage (spent resources) along the way. That is actually easier than you would think!

If you would like to have a conversation with myself, Scott Broughton about implementing a proactive growing and sustainable culture that employs “Fail Fast, Fail Early” philosophies, please reach out to me directly at 814-505-3786. This is one element of the Growth Management System; a growth program that takes a systematic approach to managing activities.

AKA can facilitate your company through this “Fail Fast, Fail Early” process and work with your team to bring direction and purpose to your manufacturing activities. Let Advantage Kentucky Alliance’s Lean experts help your team attain great success.   As the MEP for the state of Kentucky, we do receive funding from the government which allows us to buy down the costs of any of the services that we provide.  To find out more about how AKA can help you with change,  continuous improvementbusiness growth, leadership development, CyberSecurity, Quality Management Systems - ISO, or Safety, call our Marketing Specialist, Kurt Felten, directly at (270) 745-3370, and begin the conversation today.

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